For many, the arrival of Victoria Day weekend is one of the more highly anticipated dates on the calendar. The May Long is a turning point. We finally close the door on winter and make a mad dash into summer. It’s a weekend marked by traditions – going camping, planting gardens, cleaning house, opening a cottage.
For a group of Manitobans, this weekend is certainly pivotal, but for completely different reasons.
A delegation of twenty people, including Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis, City of Winnipeg Chief Operating Officer Deepak Joshi, and Catholic Healthcare Corporation of Manitoba Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lussier, have come to Louisville, Kentucky this weekend to attend that city’s Festival of Faiths and to experience an afternoon with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
The focus of the gathering is to examine how compassion can create a better world. It’s being hosted by several local organizations, one of which is Compassionate Louisville, created in 2011 when the city’s mayor, Greg Fischer, spearheaded a campaign to make Louisville a signatory to an international Charter for Compassion. It became the largest city in America to take such action, and in 2012 Louisville was named International Compassionate City of the Year by Compassionate Action Network, a group of compassionate cities and towns around the globe.
The compassionate cities movement was initiated by British author and former nun, Karen Armstrong, who in 2008, won the TED prize and expressed her wish to have the TED community help her develop a Charter for Compassion. She invited people of all nations and of all faiths and backgrounds, to submit their own words for inclusion in the Charter.
Using a unique web-based decision making platform, thousands of people from over 100 countries added their voice to the writing of the Charter. In a six-week period, thousands of submissions were entered which were then read and commented upon by over 150,000 visitors. These contributions were then incorporated into the final document.
The Charter For Compassion document is meant to transcend religious, ideological, and national differences. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter embraces the Golden Rule around the world, namely that the principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves.
For the Winnipeg contingent, the goal is to examine how this charter translates into action on the ground in Louisville and how these valuable insights may help Winnipeg adopt similar strategies to help improve life for all Manitobans.
The Winnipeg delegation includes professionals from all walks of life, including education, law, politics, health, as well as community and social services. Bios Winnipeg Delegation to Louisville May 2013
In addition to hearing the Dalai Lama speak on the subject of Engaging Compassion, the group will meet with committee members of “Charter of Compassion – Louisville” to discuss the compassionate activities created by “Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville” a collaboration between diverse sectors of the community.
One of the Winnipeg delegates is Gerry Labossiere, former Auditor for the City of Winnipeg, businessman and Winnipeg Foundation board member. He organized this Louisville visit which he says could be a first step in helping Winnipeg eventually sign onto the Charter for Compassion.
“As a first step or phase, I believe it’s important for as many groups and organizations as possible to understand and discuss what role compassion can have in helping our City and Province evolve towards a culture of peace, one where human rights are an intrinsic part of who we are,” says Labossiere.
“As such I believe this is a movement, not a system driven process. Hence opportunities to understand how cities such as Louisville are putting compassion in action is an important aspect of this first phase of understanding. It will also assist in creating dialogue in our community.”
Labossiere adds, “This compassionate ‘way of the Heart’ will hopefully help us work on some of the fundamental root causes that have created many of the system issues we have in our society.”
“Ultimately as each of us grows and connects our head to our heart and starts thinking from the heart, we should achieve a higher level of consciousness as a society,” he says. “I believe the focus as individuals and as organizations on compassion could be an important catalyst in making this shift in culture we need.”
This is the second time in six months that a delegation of Winnipeggers has travelled to Louisville to find out more about how compassion could transform our community.
The Louisville event continues throughout the long weekend.
TOWARD A COMPASSIONATE WINNIPEG
Recently, a delegation from Winnipeg traveled to Louisville, Kentucky — in November 2012 and again in May 2013 — to learn how city leaders there began Compassionate Louisville. From schools to government, healthcare to policing, Louisville is proving that a lasting, positive impact is created when compassion informs the day-to-day life of a city.
Community News Commons encourages anyone to imagine what Winnipeg could become if we followed the lead of Louisville and made compassion an integral part of our community life.
Click on the links below to read other CNC articles on creating a compassionate Winnipeg:
Friendship blossoms for Sikhs, Mennonites in North Kildonan
Knowing more about others creates greater compassion
Compassion helps take back the streets
Golden Rule unites world religions
The hard work of living a compassionate life
Winnipeg encouraged to adopt Golden Rule
Delegation seeks compassion, will hear Dalai Lama speak
Winnipeg delegation looks to compassionate Louisville
Forum on compassion asks: Does Winnipeg care?
Is Winnipeg a compassionate city?
You can also type the word ‘compassion’ into the search bar at the top of this page to access more stories on this subject.